New Internationalist

Climate talks nearly derailed by Spam

Issue 386

Activist Nia Robinson and fellow members from the Youth Committee of the US-based Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative (EJCC) were a little perplexed when they were ‘escorted’ out of a US delegation side-event at the UN climate talks in Montréal early last month. The reason given was that a can of Spam ‘could be used as a weapon’.

The activists, including representatives from disaster-struck New Orleans, were on-hand to deliver ‘Climate Change Survival Packs’ to US delegates which included the offending can of lunch meat as well as other symbolic items, such as sunscreen and a life preserver. One official suggested that the US delegates were concerned that they would have to eat the Spam for lunch rather than their usual five-course meal at one of Montréal’s chic restaurants.

Speaking of cans… The official NGO umbrella group known as CAN (Climate Action Network), seemed keen to mimic the US delegation in one instance. A grassroots activist and long-time climate change campaigner from conflict-ridden northeast India, Anastasia Pinto, was physically prevented from entering a ‘civil society’ meeting held by CAN. The bulky male ‘bouncer’ posted at the door refused to give his name and hid his badge from her, apparently informing her that ‘we don’t want any disruption here’. Ironically, CAN itself has been lobbying the UN talks for years to be more ‘transparent’ and ‘accountable’. Unfortunately, Pinto didn’t have a CAN opener readily available.

Meanwhile the representatives of the Nuclear Energy Institute, one of the leading pro-nuclear lobby groups, handed out fake uranium pellets to delegates in an effort to demonstrate how trivial nuclear waste is. Seriously can confirm that there were no adverse side effects from prolonged exposure to the pellets, though curiously our complimentary can of Spam was more cooked than usual and didn’t require an opener.

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